Sheriffs across Alabama are speaking out against two bills in the Alabama legislature designed to change gun laws in Alabama.
Calhoun County Sheriff Larry Amerson addressed reporters Wednesday morning in Birmingham. Amerson is the president of the National Sheriff's Association and is in Birmingham for the Alabama Sheriff's Association 2013 Winter Training Conference.
Amerson said the association opposes Senate Bill 129 and House Bill 55. He said the bills, if passed, would limit the gun permit authority of sheriffs in Alabama.
"We want citizens to know that these are bad bills," Amerson said.
Specifically, Sheriff Amerson said the wording of the bills would eliminate the authority of the sheriffs to approve or deny gun permits at their discretion, including to people with a history of mental illness.
Amerson also says the sheriffs believe the gun rights bills will take away the discretion of sheriffs to issue concealed weapons permits. The sheriffs also believe the bills would remove limits on where a weapon can be carried.
"We would not be able take any reasonable steps to insure the safety of people in the county," Amerson said.
The sheriffs say they support the U.S. Constitution and the Second Amendment, but say they are also concerned for public safety.
"The local sheriffs know the people in their community," Todd Entrekin, Etowah County Sheriff, said. "We know what's going on at home. We know who needs a gun and who doesn't need a gun."
Gardendale Senator Scott Beason sponsors SB 129. Beason said one goal of his bill is to clarify Alabama law over what lawful citizens can do with a gun. Beason does not believe neither state law nor local ordinances should limit where a gun owner can carry a weapon.
"I want to make sure every person in Alabama has the right to defend themselves and you can not trade liberty for security," Beason said.
Beason says the sheriffs' only issue is concealed weapons permits.
"Some of the people they are concerned about giving a permit to just can't hide it," Beason said. "My argument is, 'How much safety does that enhance?'"
The Gardendale senator hopes to meet with the sheriffs and address some of their concerns.
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